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Experts offer officers tips on safe handling of dogs

There are many ways to try to capture an animal, but Chris Bronan of the Humane Society of the United States and Dr. Melinda Merck, a veterinary forensic specialist, explained how to use different tools to capture animals safely and humanely without getting hurt in the process. The group who attended their seminar Wednesday at Cameron were law enforcement and animal control officers.

"Some passive reinforcements that you can carry to help capture a dog easier are treats, leashes, catch poles and umbrellas," Bronan said. "Other passive equipment that you can carry include flashlights, road flares, pepper spray and your baton.

"You can gain a dog's confidence and trust by giving them treats, but be careful with multiple dogs as they are liable to fight over the treats and then you have several aggressive dogs to deal with," he said. "An umbrella helps if you have to deploy your pepper spray because that umbrella acts as a barrier and you're less likely to get spray in your eyes."

Bronan also mentioned to keep an eye out for certain tell-tale signs that a person might have an aggressive dog.

'Whale eye' and a wagging tail

"You have to look at the dog's teeth. Are they baring their teeth or growling while they are showing their teeth?" Bronan said. "Then, it's safe to say that you have an aggressive dog. A scared dog is sometimes an aggressive dog, so you have to slow down and let the dog know that you are not there to harm him.

"If he gives you the 'whale eye,' then you need to be cautious. 'Whale Eye' is where the dog's white part of the eye is showing and it means he's scared or tense. The tail is another sign of aggression or scaredness. If it's wagging fast, that's a good sign, but if it's wagging slow or is tucked between the legs, look out," he said. "Always render aid to a dog that you have injured. The main thing after you have shot or injured a dog, is to make sure it is muzzled, and that's the very first thing. Then you need to transfer the dog to a vet and get him checked out!"

During an intermission, several people attending the seminar took time to compare notes and talk about their individual counties and cities and how they handled vicious dog calls.

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